Dane van Niekerk field during a T20I against India at Newlands in February. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - “The big thing is to win,” says Proteas women’s captain Dane van Niekerk ahead of Friday’s opening ODI against Bangladesh at Senwes Park.

While this may seem an obvious goal, there are numerous factors counting against Van Niekerk’s team at the moment. After a successful ICC World Cup campaign last year in England, where the Proteas bowed out in the semi-finals, they have not yet managed to hit their straps this season.

Defeat against World Cup runners-up India in both the ODI and T20 series at the beginning of the year has halted momentum. To compound matters, they will now also be without head coach Hilton Moreeng for the Bangladesh series after he was granted compassionate leave following the sudden passing of his father earlier this week.

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Western Province’s Salieg Nackerdien has stepped in as acting coach for the series. Nackerdien has previous experience with the Proteas women’s team after being part of the World Cup support staff last year as the technical advisor.

“Salieg started his role as assistant coach at the beginning of the month and we are fortunate to have a coach of his ability to step into this role at short notice,” Cricket South Africa acting chief executive, Thabang Moroe, said.

“This is a key tour for our Proteas, who have a very important and demanding tour coming up shortly when they travel to England. On behalf of the CSA Family I would like to convey our deepest sympathy to Hilton and his family at this sad time. He will rejoin the Proteas at the appropriate time.”

Van Niekerk’s team, who she refers to as a “close-knit second family”, will need to put Moreeng’s absence behind them and remain focused on the job at hand. It is vital that the Proteas get back to winning ways, with the World T20 also fast approaching later this year.

“Hopefully we can rectify (what went wrong against India),” Van Niekerk said. “The selectors have kept faith in the playing XI and squad, so I just think that we need to get our combinations right. 

"We play five ODI’s, but there is the World T20 at the end of the year, and we need to get our batting and bowling combos in order. Hopefully we can do that. The big thing is to win, because that creates momentum, which would give us good momentum going to England.”

IOL Sport

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